While the coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed the world, there is one advantage of the social-distance and stay-at-home measures issued by most governments- nature seems to recover. Skies are clearer, waters are purified, and wildlife is thriving.
Some good news amid the panic and horrors caused by the fast-spreading virus come from Florida, where the leatherback sea turtles are nesting densely at the Juno Beach, which is considered to be the most densely nested sea turtle beach in the world.
Their nests need to be undisturbed by people and dogs, and this season, Loggerhead Marinelife Center counted 69 of them, which is “significantly more than normal” for the 9.5 miles of beach, and most of which are from leatherbacks, classified ed as vulnerable by the WWF.
All seven species of sea turtles are endangered and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) lists damages to nesting habitats, getting hit by marine vessels, accidentally getting captured by fishermen, and debris entanglement as the largest threats they face in the U.S.
Sarah Hirsch, the senior manager of research and data at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, said:
‘’Our leatherbacks are coming in strong this year. It’s going to be a really good year for our leatherbacks.
We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment. Our world has changed, but these turtles have been doing this for millions of years and it’s just reassuring and gives us hope that the world is still going on.’’
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Each night during sea turtle nesting season, a team of our researchers patrol our 9.5-mile stretch of beach for nesting sea turtles. This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Leatherback Project! Our researchers are documenting injuries on all of our nesting turtles for a larger research study. So far this season our beaches have a total of 79 nests, 76 leatherbacks and 3 loggerheads! Learn more about our research studies and The Leatherback Project at marinelife.org/leatherback-aussie - #seaturtles #loggerheadmarinelifecenter #research #leatherback #endangeredspecies #jupiterfl #junobeach #goodnewsnetwork #somegoodnews
David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, explained that thousands of turtles are currently migrating to Florida nesting beaches and other areas in the Southeastern United States, and believes that “all of the potential positive impacts relate to changes in human behavior.”
He added that due to the reduced number of people boating and operating cruise and container ships, “the chances that turtles are going to be inadvertently struck and killed will be lower.”
“All of the reduced human presence on the beach also means that there will be less garbage and other plastics entering the marine environment. Ingestion and entanglement in plastic and marine debris also are leading causes of injury to sea turtles.
We expect that thousands of hatchlings that ordinarily would be disoriented by lights this nesting season will not be – and are more likely to survive to reach the sea.”
The sea turtles are now mating near the shore and the surface of the water. In the past two decades, the populations of turtles have been declining, so beaches are essential for their nesting.
Rising sea levels, as well as unchecked human activities, have directly destroyed or disturbed sea turtle nesting beaches and feeding grounds. Additionally, their populations have been endangered due to hunting and egg collection.
Now, marine life seems to love the peace and quiet at the beaches.